On September 14, 2007, Arctic sea ice shrunk to the smallest area in recorded history. The European Space Agency (ESA) identified the loss of ice using satellite readings. The ESA reported that ice coverage had declined more than 1 million square kilometers (386,102 square miles) since 2006. This one-year loss of ice far exceeds the annual average decline of 100,000 square kilometers (38,610 square miles) per year.

Shrinking sea ice provides evidence that the Arctic is warming. In fact, the Arctic is warming much faster than lower latitudes. The loss of ice will have many effects around the world, including sea level rise, changing precipitation patterns, altered wildlife migration routes, and increased opportunities in Arctic shipping lanes. Policymakers will need to address these issues to better prepare for the environmental, economic, and social consequences of vanishing sea ice.

alter
Verb

to change.

annual
Adjective

yearly.

Noun

region at Earth's extreme north, encompassed by the Arctic Circle.

consequence
Noun

result or outcome of an action or situation.

economic
Adjective

having to do with money.

evidence
Noun

data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.

Noun

distance north or south of the Equator, measured in degrees.

migration route
Noun

path followed by immigrants to a new region.

policymaker
Noun

person or organization responsible for creating government or organizational rules and behavior.

Noun

all forms in which water falls to Earth from the atmosphere.

satellite
Noun

object that orbits around something else. Satellites can be natural, like moons, or made by people.

Noun

increase in the average reach of the ocean. The current sea level rise is 1.8 millimeters (.07 inch) per year.

shipping
Noun

transportation of goods, usually by large boat.

vanish
Verb

to disappear.

wildlife
Noun

organisms living in a natural environment.